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Most college freshman have a pretty small list of bragging rights – world record for beer guzzling, most hours slept in one day, for example. But Jake Gyllenhaal can claim boasting rights to something very few of us have – the starring role in a movie.

That's right, while the rest of us were passing our summer days by the pool, this Columbia U. freshman was in Knoxville, Tenn., filming Universal Pictures' October Sky, a movie that hit the theaters in February. He plays Homer Hickam, Jr., a gifted high school student who wants to avoid a repeat of his father's life as a coal miner and fulfill his dreams of working with rockets. "The passion Homer has for his rocket-building, I have for my acting," says Gyllenhaal.

And he's no stranger to acting. In fact, he's worked with some pretty amazing actors in his young career, including Debra Winger, Billy Crystal and Robin Williams. "When you work with people like that, it's like playing tennis with a pro, he says. "They hit a ball to you , and they hit it so hard, when you hit it back to them, it's bound to come back hard, even if you just hold up your racquet."

As for his first year at Columbia, Gyllenhaal is playing like a pro, himself. "I thought I learned more than I ever had when making the film," he says. "Then again, after my first semester of school, I realized I've learned more than ever before in my first year at Columbia."

By Julie Keller, Assistant Editor


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